Senate to Vet State of Privacy Shield Update

U.S. Capitol
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The Senate Commerce Committee plans to hold a hearing next week on privacy and data.

Committee chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) announced the hearing, “The Invalidation of the EU-US Privacy Shield and the Future of Transatlantic Data Flows,” for 10 a.m. Wednesday (Dec. 9).

Related: EU, U.S., Working on New Privacy Shield

The hearing will look at the policy issues that led to the invalidation of the shield framework, as well as that decision's impact on U.S. businesses, and where the U.S. is in the process of coming up with a successor shield.

The U.S. started huddling with the EU back in August about fixing the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield after the EU's Court of Justice ruled that the U.S. can't live up to its part of the bargain, promising to strengthen privacy protections.

Concluding that it does not sufficiently protect data transferred from the EU to the U.S., the Court of Justice invalidated the shield.

The privacy shield replaced the safe harbor agreement that a European Union court invalidated in October 2015 over concerns about the U.S. being able to hold up its end of the agreement given the government surveillance revealed by the Edward Snowden leaks. The voluntary framework requires companies to provide notice of what personal data is being collected and stored, the purposes it is used for, and an "opt out" mechanism.

The shield was a way for U.S. companies to be considered in compliance with the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) simply by signing on to the shield's data protection guarantees rather than having to come up with individual policies and agreements to comply with the GDPR protections of cross-border data flows. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.